Another boring article on Coal Economics! :)
While every one is clamoring for coal from Indonesia, Australia and South Africa, developments in the farther west might have shifted the overall paradigm of coal scenario.
USA with its increasing Shale gas resources and the emphasis on cleaner coal has seen a decline in coal based electricity generation thereby leading to increased inventory of coal. (So far Cliched!!)
With decreased coal consumption, it was inevitable that US starts exporting Coal from the power hungry countries like China and India. Till date the high prices and domestic consumption in USA were impediments. But they no longer are.
Hence, as predicted Coal has slowly started moving out of USA.
To begin with its only a trickle, but the interesting thing is it has actually started moving out.
The below figure provides a snapshot of the coal moving out to the three of the largest consumers:
As expected, with its proximity to USA and the hunger it has of Coal, China is the largest importer of Coal from USA among Asian countries. Still, China has only imported a paltry amount compared to the amount that it imports from Indonesia or South Africa.
The interesting number is the Cost of Coal. As you can see, the prices from last year to this year in the same duration have nearly halved for China. Similarly India has started imported more coal from USA than earlier. But it still is around $80/ton of FOB. The charges for CIF are still not known.
At $80/ton and with a very optimistic estimate of around $20 for Insurance and Frieght, the variable cost for a sub-critical plant in Coastal India would come to ~Rs2.50/kWh, which is quite an acceptable figure for a power plant.
With huge availability of Coal and with such variable cost, it was just around the cards that some one would crack a deal of imported coal from USA as the major source of Coal.
Just today, the client with whom I am working for made a deal worth $7bn for 25 year assured coal supply from Coal for its power plants and steel plants. Indeed quite an acheivement considering that the client was lagging on all other fronts.
He would be the largest imported of coal from USA at this juncture. Hopefully the dreadful Coal scenario in India will improve with the assured coal supply from Coal